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The Fintel Alliance protects the most vulnerable from criminals

The Fintel Alliance, an AUSTRAC initiative, recently supported law enforcement in tracking down and arresting a criminal syndicate that preys on Australia’s most vulnerable.  

Through working in partnership, Fintel Alliance analysts from government agencies and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac provided financial intelligence that allowed police to quickly dismantle the operations of a criminal syndicate in Western Sydney.

The Alliance was able to provide NSW Police with financial intelligence about a 79-year-old customer who had $20,000 stolen from him. The enhanced financial intelligence from the Fintel Alliance enabled detectives to move quickly to arrest the head of the syndicate, a 25-year-old man from South Wentworthville, and dismantle the syndicate’s operations. 

According to NSW Police, the syndicate used a variety of methods to gain access to the financial accounts of victims and transferred the funds into accounts controlled by them. The most common method involved members of the syndicate “cold calling” victims and asserting to be technicians from their telecommunication company. The syndicate convinced the victim there was a security flaw in their internet access and the victim allowed the syndicate to control their computer via remote access.

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose PSM said the Fintel Alliance has made it possible for government and industry to work alongside each other by sharing financial intelligence that helps law enforcement to protect our community from the threats of serious financial crime.

"This case is a reminder why industry and government agencies must work together in the fight against serious financial crime that harm our community”, Ms Rose said.

NAB Enterprise Security Officer David Fairman said NAB is proud to be working closely with its government partners and industry peers to identify and pursue suspicious activity.

“We work hard to protect our customers, and by working closely together on issues like this we are able to deliver better outcomes for customers and the broader community. The threat landscape is constantly evolving and we continue to invest in both detection and prevention to protect our customers,” Mr Fairman said.

As partners in the Fintel Alliance, Australia’s major banks regularly work with AUSTRAC and their other law enforcement and security agency partners in the Alliance such as, NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to combat serious crime in our community.

The Fintel Alliance enables joint operational projects, such as combatting the sexual exploitation of children, the financing of terrorist threats in our community and protects Australians from criminal activity.

The NSW Police advise the community never to provide banking information to any person over the phone unless you have taken steps to verify who the person requesting it is. Additionally, government agencies and most telephone and internet providers will not request you make payment via, iTunes or Google Play or similar gift cards. 

In recognition of the Alliance’s value to Australia’s national security and law enforcement community, in 2019 the Government committed A28.4M over four years to expand its operational capability.
 

Background – The Fintel Alliance

In 2017 AUSTRAC launched Fintel Alliance, bringing together a range of organisations involved in the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crime.

In this world-first private-public partnership, 25 government and private sector members (domestic and international), work together to:

  • increase the resilience of the financial sector to prevent it being exploited by criminals
  • support law enforcement investigations into serious crime and national security matters.

Alliance partners include major banks, remittance service providers and gambling operators, as well as law enforcement and security agencies from Australia and overseas.

A full list of members and further information about how the Alliance works and its priorities can be found on AUSTRAC’s website: https://www.austrac.gov.au/about-us/fintel-alliance

Media contact:
media@austrac.gov.au
(02) 9950 0488